Los Angeles, California - An Australian man was arrested over the weekend when he arrived at a Los Angeles-area hotel allegedly to buy a 6-year-old boy for sex.
Michael Quinn, 33, of Melbourne, was charged in a criminal complaint filed Monday in federal court with traveling to the U.S. for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with a minor. The complaint also charges Quinn with attempted sex trafficking of a minor.
Quinn was arrested Saturday by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). After the complaint was filed Monday afternoon, Quinn made his initial appearance in federal court, where he was ordered held in jail pending a detention hearing Friday.
“Predators who travel overseas to sexually exploit children do not just victimize children in faraway lands,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “As this case shows, children everywhere are vulnerable to such predators, including children right here in Los Angeles. The Internet has helped to enable the child sex tourism industry by making the world a smaller place, but this case, and others like it prosecuted by my office, show that such international predators can and will be brought to justice.”
According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, the investigation began earlier this month after undercover HSI special agents met Quinn on a social networking site that caters to individuals with a sexual interest in children. Quinn told undercover agents he was traveling to Los Angeles and wanted to “meet up with a dad who shares his young ones.” Quinn explained to the undercover agent he was hoping to meet “other pervs” in the U.S. and ultimately agreed to pay a human trafficker $250 to provide him with a young boy with whom he could engage in illicit sex.
On Saturday afternoon, Quinn went to a Los Angeles-area hotel expecting to meet with three fellow child predators for a party, during which the men would engage in sex with boys provided by the sex trafficker. Quinn went to the hotel room not realizing the men inside were actually undercover HSI special agents. A short time later, another undercover agent, posing as the sex trafficker, arrived to collect payment for the children. After Quinn handed the sex trafficker his money, law enforcement authorities came into the hotel room and took him into custody.
“Millions of tourists flock to Los Angeles every year for all this city has to offer, but if you’re coming here to sexually exploit children, expect to be met by law enforcement, not a welcome mat,” said Joseph Macias, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. “As this case vividly illustrates, the advent of the Internet means youth are now vulnerable to exploitation by sexual predators not just around the corner, but around the globe. Pedophiles should be on notice, HSI and its law enforcement partners are using all of the resources at our disposal to combat this reprehensible behavior and hold the perpetrators responsible for their crimes.”
The ongoing investigation is being conducted by HSI, with assistance from the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
The child sex trafficking charge is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison and a maximum term of life without parole. Traveling with the intent of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with a minor carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.
This case is a product of Project Safe Childhood, a Department of Justice initiative launched in 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, and HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators.
Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the DOJ Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 12,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2014, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.